Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Humble Book Announcement

A year ago I was approached to write a book about Thin Clients, and it's finally been released. I received my physical books yesterday and it's very rewarding to see a project like this come to completion.

I spent many hours thinking about ways to present this material. The problem is that every single reader will have completely different requirements, user counts, staff, software and money. It would have been easy to write 400 pages describing in great detail our exact thin clients, our exact distributions and software packages. But that wouldn't have been useful for most readers. There is also the issue of technology churn; thin client models change all the time, and operating systems are in a state of constant change. So I decided the book should be designed to offer *ideas*. So often we get phone calls from people that are thinking of moving to Linux and/or Thin Clients and they don't even know how to get started or what options are available. It also covers what is often the biggest challenge: the user community and those in charge of the company or organization.

I'm hopeful that I have found the right balance to help be the middle person to allow many more people to deploy the wonderful things that all of you have written.

The link for the book is here.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

"It would have been easy to write 400 pages describing in great detail our exact thin clients, our exact distributions and software packages. But that wouldn't have been useful for most readers."

Lies!! :-) That's what I want to know. I've got the ideas. It's the details that kill me. Getting the xorg.conf *just right* for certain models (Netvista 2200-E was a PITA), and so forth. I'd love a detailed explanation of what steps you took to get the 'flow' of the user's experience so seamless - how their thin client interacts with many application servers, and what scripts needed to be written to achieve that. Would love to pick your brain on that - so perhaps another book? City Of Largo Technical Manual - by Dave Richards. There - the hardest part is done for you. ;)

-Chris T in Dallas TX
PS I'm not using that slow Netvista any more.. it's pretty much an 'emergency use only' terminal.

Dave Richards said...

I understand the details are sometimes a killer, but if I go and describe the HP t5725 model with optional expansion slot, optional flash drive and optional PCI based ATI 9250 video card and HP discontinues that tomorrow then the book is already obsolete.

I'm hoping the blog will fill in details not found in the book and describe exact methods of deployment based on the book ideas.

The biggest thing to me is deploying the same model to all people, and testing before deployment.

HP has a build of Debian for this exact hardware configuration that anyone else can use.

Dave Richards said...

The book does describe how to deploy multiple servers and scale from just a few users up to hundreds (or 750 total, 250 concurrent in our case). I mention application servers versus departmental servers in detail.

Gabriel Burt said...

Congratulations on the book, that's great!

Robert said...

Hello,

Well, I just bought the last copy of the book that Amazon says they have in stock. Hopefully it doesn't take too long to find its way to me in Alaska.

I am looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the detailed blog. I have found it to be very informative and useful.

Have you finished rolling out your new terminals?

I did find a PDF of a presentation you gave in 2004 about your terminal setup (Enterprise Use of Gnome/XD2 and Thin Clients) that I found extremely informative and useful. Any chance you have anything similar to reflect your new configuration? I think that would be an excellent addendum to the book. I would gladly pay extra for such an item as well.

Dave Richards said...

Robert
Terminals are all rolled out and live. Things went well and generally people were happy with the results...especially the massive increase in speed.

I have had to juggle a few issues with the book, including as I mentioned writing about hardware that people may never use , hardware that becomes obsolete and being mindful of describing too closely my employers network design in a manner that might concern our security minded people.

I think the best medium for items not suited for the book, but perhaps an appendix to the book is to put it here in the blog. What I will do in the next few weeks is produce a blog with very detailed information about how the HP works. I'll contact HP and see if they can make a slightly modified build for general consumption that supports the ATI cards and just presents an XDMCP chooser. That way those people that want to test this design, can simply buy one unit and for a few hundred dollars do a complete test of sound and 3D session management.

Sound is working as of 2 days ago, we provided pulseaudio to HP and they returned a build with that daemon. Cool stuff and being tested right now.

Dave Richards said...

Regarding book availability, let me ping the publisher. Maybe Amazon got a small allotment in their store front just to get it out there. It was just published a few weeks ago and almost certainly is available.

Anonymous said...

It appears to be cheaper on pactpub.com. I almost got it from Amazon but checked out the link instead. It's only a few $ difference though.

Dave, very awesome you wrote this, I'll definitely be ordering it soon.

For what it's worth to anyone, I've been buying a few IBM x345 servers off eBay for LTSP and VMware server use. They are a little dated but are a great steal for the specs - dual proc 3.06ghz Xeon's, redundant power, raid, usually 3 or 4 36GB drives, and either 1GB or 2.5GB ram, anywhere from $400 to $700. That's one thin client, hehe. I do want to play with the t5725's though. Dave, what made you pick ATI over Nvidia? My first choice would have been Nvidia for their linux drivers, but I haven't seen what ATI has been doing since the merger.

-Chris T in Dallas again

Dave Richards said...

ATI vs Nvidia:
There were some limitations in the decision. The thin clients support PCI (not PCI Express which is newer) based video cards, which limits somewhat the cards that we could test. We wanted to buy cards with no fans, to avoid having any moving parts inside. The heatsink on the ATIs were much smaller and they ran much cooler. The drivers worked and they were very stable. Since our purchase, AMD has opened up the hardware greatly and are coming out with new drivers later this year that are supposed much faster. Good news for us.

Robert said...

Dave,

Thanks for the updates. I am glad to hear that everything went well.

I am impressed with how responsive HP has been (based on your previous blog postings, etc.)

Has there level of cooperation been a surprise at all?

My previous of employer was a Fortune 10 company, so I got used to people wanting to hear from me. Since I now work for a much smaller firm, I have found it a little harder to get the big companies to pay me as much attention :-)

Steve F said...

The book looks great Dave!

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Anonymous said...

Dave:

As your former city manager, I am so proud that you have taken the effort to share your knowledge and our success in Largo. You are a gifted and tenacious professional and I so enjoyed working with you. Keep on making a difference in our community... and in the greater Non-Microsoft world.

Steven Stanton
Former City Manager
City of Largo.....